The Hall of Lost Pussy


 

Frank and I spoke occasionally after he started dogsitting Maggie. He enjoyed watching her and now that Esther could come to work with me too, I liked the idea of dropping Maggie off once in a while to stay with Frank instead of being stuck at home alone.

We decided we would resume our joint viewings of Celebrity Apprentice. He lets me bring all three of my dogs over, we drink cheap wine and high-five over fallen tears of hated sub-celebrities.

When the Eric Trump, the younger son, came on, Frank shuddered.

He said, “He is evil. I just can’t stand looking at him.”

I said, “They are both evil. So is the other one.”

He said, “I guess I am used to looking at him.”

I sipped my drink, “Yeah. They kill people.”

Turns out they kill exotic animals. One week, I came over and showed a leaked picture of the two brothers holding up a leopard they appeared to have shot and killed.

We joked about how they simply tossed the bodies after the kill and moved on to something else, like a sex slave or an infant. As it turns out, they claim they fed the meat to starving villagers, though the Zimbabwe government publicly suspects that to be a lie and an insult.

Now, every time one of them comes on the show, Frank shakes his head and says, “All I see is . . .”

Me, “Dead leopard. Elephant tail. Yup.”

But we watch it.

I drop off Maggie the morning of, take the other two kids to work and then swing by after my shift.

We got to talking, and I remembered why I like Frank.

Frank is a funny, smart and candid guy. If I was a man, he would be a very dear friend.

Unfortunately, I am not a man, and I have been seen to the other side of him; manipulative, stubborn and, at times, almost sleazy. Its rather annoying, because I really love all three of the men I’ve been most intimate with in the last year; Alan, Abe and Frank. As a man to a woman, they are shitty. As person to person, they are some of the best friends I have had in Southern California.

***

Since I left Frank, he downward spiraled into a xanax addiction.

He said he was taking up to 6 a day.

Frank, “I just remember, one Friday night, laying down for a nap and I woke up in a very nice suit, after having this bizarre dream about getting kicked out of a casino, and my neighbor was next to the bed saying, ‘Its ok, you are home now. Everything is going to be ok.’ I thought, what do you mean, I just woke up? Turns out, the dream was actually me wandering around town high on xanax. I was in a casino, I wrote this nonsense check. I still have it, it makes no sense. They kicked me out. I remember vaguely being pulled over, I found the ticket, it was for crossing lanes illegally.  Then, I guess, my car ran out of gas on the freeway. I don’t know how I got home, I guess I walked. My neighbor saw my car, abandoned on the side of the freeway, came back here and found me like that.

It was insane. Crazy.

That is when everyone came down hard on me about the pills. And I listened. They suggested rehab, they suggested moving back home. I had a problem, it was a serious problem. Now I am done with it. I don’t need anymore advice, the conversations were good, but now they are just annoying.”

I said, “Are you still taking xanax?”

He said, “Nope. I have been clean. I feel great.”

I nodded heavily. Why the fuck didn’t the police officer notice he was so high he was barely conscious? Jesus Christ.

Frank is still clean.

After St. Patrick’s Day weekend, we took the dogs up Bronson canyon to where the original Batcave is from the television show in the 60s.

I told him about my date.

Me, “ . . . And then he said, ‘I was really looking forward to tearing you apart tonight?”

Frank, “Wow, this guy is going to make me look great on the blog.”

Me, “That’s terrible right? Am I overreacting?”

Frank laughed and shook his head, “That is . . . that is . . . hahaha . . . pretty bad.”

I said, “Are all guys assholes? Is that it? Is that the secret?”

Frank said, at first slow and polite, “Yes, that is exactly it.” Then he turned up his collar and spoke into it like a hidden microphone, “She is figuring it out, we are all assholes. None of us are good. She figured it out!”

Later, after our episode viewing, Frank and I revisited the story.

He said, “It’s a shame he said what he did, because he probably could have had you. It sounds like you liked him.”

Interesting phrase, “He could have had me.” The statement has no implication of my head or my heart, only my vagina. Once you capture a woman’s vagina, once you have penetrated those fleshy gates, do you have her?

I said, “I did. I did like him. He just needed to be patient with me but he didn’t like me enough.”

He said, “He just doesn’t know what he is doing . . . the hall of the lost pussy. I have two I always think of.

I remember when I was in my early twenties, I was just a stupid kid. There was this gorgeous woman who kept talking to me. She had a flight leaving out of the airport first thing in the morning, and she said, ‘I am going to SkyBar with these two guys. I guess there is nothing else to do.

I mean, one guy walked over and stood between us, she stepped around him to talk to me.

Being a stupid kid, who didn’t know any better, I said, ‘Ok, I guess you’re going to SkyBar.

She left, and the two comics I was with said, ‘What the hell are you doing? She was fishing for you.’

I said, ‘Oh, so I should have asked for her number?’

They said, ‘NO, NO!! You ask her to get into your car and drive her home.’

(he pressed his hands up against his receding hairline)

Oh God, that sucks. Oh well. We all have one, a Hall of Lost Pussy.”

I kind of looked at him disgusted at first, nevermind the lifelong connection Buddy could make with me or Frank with this other girl, it really is all about conquest. Then I thought about myself being in someone’s hall of lost pussy and felt cherished or championed in a way. I said, “So, you think he will regret it?”

Frank tossed his hand up in the air, like someone’s New York uncle, “Oh yeah . . . years from now. But not now. He just sounds really inexperienced. I mean . . . ha ha ha . . . tear you apart .  . . Jesus, thats bad. Its ok to think it, but you never say that to a girl. How . . . humiliating.”

There was a moment of silence and he said, “You are confusing sexually.”

I said, “I think I am straight forward. Its just men don’t take me literally when I am actually saying what I mean.”

Frank twisted his body around and said, “Well, there is something about you, I don’t know. Its confusing. Sometimes you make sense and then other times . . . I don’t know how to describe it . . . you kind of give mixed signals.”

Me, “Huh.”

A few weeks ago, when I was still holding on to the idea of somehow staying in LA, I asked Frank if I could stay in his apartment with my dogs for 10 days. I really have no where else I can go and be with all my dogs. I could save money and move around.

At first he said, “You and your dogs are always welcome.”

I said, “I will pay rent, the only thing I ask is that you don’t hit on me. It has to be strictly platonic and you have to respect that.”

He agreed.

Later that night, he texted me, “Feeling funny about the 10 day plan. I DO like the idea of u staying, but to be clear: 1 – if u r in a relationship in April I feel its using me to crash on my couch at the same time. If u r seeing someone, he needs to be the one to come thru. If you really are single, split up, or “on a break” thats different.

And 2, I am a single, straight male and we have a history. You look attractive to me as ever and we are close. 10 days alone with u in one bedroom apt? Me bouncing off the walls with u and the dogs? For 2 or 3 days, “behaving” is no problem. For 10? Because I like u, obeying rules after several days, hm, isn’t in my nature. And I might add it isn’t really in yours. We like breaking rules and having fun. So, please think carefully. My door IS open and its fun having u, but I’m saying all this now to be totally fair and honest.”

I wrote: “Ok, I don’t want to fool around with you, Frank. I just need me and the kids safe.”

Frank: “I know. Which is why I’m saying it. I want to be a friend and a gentleman and come thru for u. On the other hand, after 10 days .  . . what can I say, you looked great last nite.”

I wrote: “I suppose being honest is an excuse for no self control.”

Frank: “I am allowed to be comfortable in my own apt. I want to help and I’m not sure what to say.”

Me: “Nothing to say. I will look for other options.”

That was that.

We missed the next week of Celebrity Apprentice and didn’t speak for a while.

We reconvened a week later and both said the same thing, we didn’t know what that exchange meant to the friendship, the chummy banter behind sleeping dogs and bad TV. So we just resumed the friendship as we were.

I told him, “Everything would be easier if I was a fat chick.”

He said, “Nothing would be easier if you were a fat chick.”

I really wish, with some men I know, we could just be stripped of our genitals so I could really just have a pal and enjoy uncorrupt company. Then I could be like other guys and when someone asks me about them, I could say with full confidence, “He is a great guy. I would let him date my sister.”

I believe they really think that about each other.

The sister experiences another side, and, most of the time, he isn’t a great guy at all.

“If you open up too much to people, they have power over you and make you do things for them. Better to keep things from a distance, keep them on the other side of the footlights. Learn to juggle- learn to fall down in funny ways. Keep them as an audience where you can be in control. Keep the curtain up, keep the play going. It holds off judgement. “ -Alan Alda “Never Have Your Dog Stufffed and Other Thing’s I’ve Learned”

***
Antioch wrote me back regarding my application to their writing school, one of the few possibilities for me to stay in LA:

The MFA Admissions Faculty applicant reviewers were very impressed by your creative work. However, because of the limited number of seats available and the strength of the applicant pool, we have placed you on a waiting list of strong applicants who, while not offered admissions at this time, may be offered admissions in the weeks ahead, should spaces in the Summer/Fall Semester class become available.

Many of our MFA graduates gained admissions to the program after having been placed on the waiting list. Anitoch seeks the most talented writers available, and successfully competes with the premier MFA programs in the nation. Therefore, being places on our waitlist is a sign that we are seriously interested in you and your work. It is also a statement that we believe you are an incredibly good writer.

We appreciate your interest,
Admissions

***

I had a 48 hour period where I had two auditions, two shifts at Doggie Daycare and a short film shoot for a friend.

I wouldn’t sleep and I would barely have time to eat, so I decided to leave the dogs with Frank and use it as a homebase while I coordinated from spot to spot, job to job.

Noon: I went to an audition for a TV spot on Thursday morning at noon. I showed up and was invited into a room. A woman with a very plain face sat down across from me and said, “Ok, do you have any questions?”

I said, “Um, no, not really. Are we improvising the scene in the class when she discovers something is wrong with her heart or is there something else?”

The casting director looked incredibly confused, and dramatically turned her head from side to side like I was totally in the wrong audition.

She said, “Did you look at the sides?” (sides are samples of scenes read in an audition)

I said, “I didn’t see any sides.”

She said, slowly, “Ok . . . the way LA Casting works is there is a link to the sides you download before coming into the audition.”

I know how the sides work on LA Casting. I said, “I saw no mention of sides. I apologize.”

She said, “Why don’t you come back tomorrow after downloading the sides?”

I looked down and saw copies of the sides under her chair. She wanted to prove a point. So I said, “Ok, when may I come?”

She said, “I will be auditioning noon to 2.”

So I left and went back to Frank’s to get ready for Doggie Daycare and relayed the story. He said, “What a bitch. She could have just given you the sides. Professionalism? Where is professionalism? Everything is a power play. You should go back and say, ‘Before we begin, I am just too emotional about the whole sides problem we had yesterday. Can I have an apology so I can get right for the character?”

I said, “Its fine, whatever. But now I have to make a point of going back and knowing those sides.”

I went on LA Casting, saw no mention of sides, and even went into the “Sides” section of the site, and couldn’t find any sides. Finally, on the e-audition ticket, I saw a hyperlink for the sides. Thats a new feature that must have kicked in during the last 6 months.

I worked Doggie Daycare 2-10pm on Thursday, dropped off the dogs, went to Kinkos and downloaded sides for both auditions and then drove to Westwood for my friend’s shoot.

She said, “You will be wearing lingerie, is that ok?”

I said, “Sure.”

10:30: I showed up, I borrowed her shower, I ate a handful of chips and then changed into a teddy and a mini skirt. They asked me to lose the mini skirt.

So I walked around in my teddy and panties. My co-star was very cocky at first, greeting me, lazily, while lounging on the bed.

When I walked in with my teddy and panties, he stiffened, sat up and asked lots of questions to the director. I thought that was kind of sweet.

The script was, in a nutshell:

-Guy is dumped by girlfriend.

-Guy orders a hooker off Craigslist who will JUST massage him for $250.

-Hooker arrives and without saying a word, grabs cash out of hand, pushes man on bed, takes a swig of whiskey and says, “This will be worth every penny.”

-Hooker and Guy bond over war stories as they both turn out to be veterans.

-Guy passes out on bed during making out. Hooker passes out on the floor.

-Ex-girlfriend comes back and snuggles with Guy, not noticing Hooker on floor.

-Hooker leaves.

-Guy follows.

-Hooker and Guy abandon both their lives and walk into the sunset, as Guy text-dumps ex-girlfriend.

I finally got my Hooker with a Heart of Gold script. Rite of passage 😉

And, being in a teddy, making out with a stranger and going off book came very easily. At this point, I can step in and out of my imaginary realm without much of an adjustment period. The moment that felt the best was laughing on cue. That is something that used to be very difficult to sell for me, since it is such a genuine and involuntary human action. For the first time, I could cue it up and knock it into the park take after take after take.

2:30am: They woke up my friend to finish her part as the jaded ex-girlfriend.

She walked in, saw me on the foot of her bed and said, “Get off my bed.”

In smeared red lipstick and a cheap teddy threading at the seams, I tossed off the most staged and disingenuous laugh of the whole shoot.

She said, “I mean it. Get off my bed and on the floor where you belong.”

I said, “Jesus.”

She smiled at me with her arms crossed, slightly pulling up her shirt to reveal a perfectly flat stomach.

The director and the co-star mocked some cat sounds and then kept me at a distance for the rest of the night.

I didn’t know what to make of all that. I like that girl.

3:30am: We wrapped. I realized I left my phone charger back in Sylmar, drove back and picked up a few more things.

4:11am: I was back in Hollywood for a quick glass of wine and reviewed the sides.

5:00am: I took a nap and was up at 9am to get off book on my sides.

Noon: I was back in the same old building for the casting of the TV spot, waiting on a folding chair out in the hallway.

An older black man in military gear walked out of another room and said, “So that’s it?”

I said, “Yup. Now don’t think about it again. If you get a phone call, it will be a pleasant surprise.”

He offered a low chuckle. He was new.

I was called into the room, this time with two casting directors. I thanked the plain woman for having me back and started.

We did a scene where I find out I have a life-threatening tumor. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or the stress, but my tears came on cue. My hand started shaking. My cheeks flushed.

At the end, the casting director said, very dryly, “That was excellent. Now can we do the voice over?”

I said, “Yeah, can I have a moment?”

They said, “Of course.”

I shook off the tears and the nerves. I don’t really have a tumor and a 10-yr-old child.

When I started the voice-over, I stumbled at first, then I restarted and sold word for word like I was a simple girl from Ohio with only one objective in life, to take care of my family.

At the end, the casting director said, “That was fantastic. I am glad you came back.”

A compliment from her was worth a thousand compliments from a kind, easier casting director.

I thanked them both again, profusely, then rushed back to Frank’s, picked up Esther and Brad and ran them over to Doggie Daycare.

12:30pm: I had less than an hour to make it to the other audition before starting my shift.

The next audition was a paid role for a feature film. The character was discovering herself through becoming a nude model. It sounds kind of like the typical misogynistic crap material I wade through, but the director had an impressive resume; interviewed Charles Manson, worked with Bob Flanagan on a show, who I just happen to know through a fantastic documentary called “Sick.” And the director did a lot of work on serial killers.

I really wanted this part. For $150/a day and a lead in a feature, I could stay in LA.

1:20pm: Walking in, we chatted while another actress used the restroom. We had to wait to begin the audition until she was done, since you had to walk through the stage to use it. We had an immediate connection. He googled me and we discussed my documentary. I met one or two of the Manson girls while shooting my documentary and then spoke to him about Charles Manson, and asked him what it was like talking to him.

He said, “He is interesting. He had just come out of solitary confinement when I saw him, so he was doing all those taekwondo moves.”

We spoke briefly about Bob Flanagan, the handicapped sadomasochist and serial killing in general before the girl finally left.

I was off book for one scene, and I would say decent for the scene read. The character switches from white trash to overly-eloquent, which was difficult. She seemed younger and less educated than me. So, I pulled out my dark side and played up my innocence. It was hard, one of the scenes was a two page monologue I just couldn’t memorize in time. I lost my place once or twice, but just kept my eyes black for camera and slithered a little in my chair.

At the end, the director gave a fond chuckle and said, “That was great. We will let you know by the weekend.”

I wanted to say, “This part can save me! This part can keep me in LA! You don’t know how badly I need it. I am about to leave everything and move back home. Save me!”

I didn’t. That isn’t fair. And I didn’t get the part.

***

Last week, Frank and I watched the episode of Apprentice, and high-fived when Aubrey O’Day crumbled in the boardroom and settled into late night conversation as I finished my laundry. The machine in Frank’s building has a cracked compartment where you can reach in and pull the lever for a free wash.

“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” came on.

I said, “I am moving back to Washington in 4 weeks.”

He said, “Can anything happen that would persuade you to stay?”

Me, “Oh yeah. But at this point it would have to be something big and unexpected.”

Frank, “I know you have to do what you have to do, and those of us who like you and want you to stay don’t really have a right to push it.”

I thought about our text exchange, and how I couldn’t move in with him, even temporarily, without having to deal with boundaries being tampered and tested.

So, I told him I was thinking of submitting myself as a Dominatrix or Submissive for a sex club that was hiring in Los Angeles called The Dominion. I actually got the number for Human Resources who would be conducting interviews this week.

I said, “If it’s just one or two nights where I make “$250-$500 . . . that could get me a nice apartment with a yard.”

Frank said, “You don’t want to do that.”

I said, “Why not?”

Frank, “Dominatrix … you don’t have it in you.”

I said, “I am an actress.”

Frank, “And the submissive, you would see the worst of the worst men out there. People would be coming in who aren’t able to find someone who is into what they are in to. Nasty things. It would just ruin your mind. You would hate them, more than you hate them now. Pissing on you, saying terrible things to you. Don’t put yourself through that. Here, let’s look at the rates on the site.

– Heavy sessions with a submissive lady:

$180 for 30 minutes

$240 for 45 minutes
$300 for 1 hour
$390 for 1 hour and 15 minutes
$480 for 1 hour and 30 minutes
$600 for 2 hours
Caning Fee: $10 per stroke

The house will probably take at least half. Do you want to make $60, $90 for a ‘session’ with a guy? Is that worth it for you?

Or $5 for a caning? $5 for a beating. Is that worth it?”

I bit my lip, “Nooo.”

Frank, “Come on. Don’t do that. These girls, they have real issues. Terrible issues. They are lost. You aren’t.”

I said, “My therapist suggested I find a home for the dogs up in Washington and come back to LA. But I can’t be in LA without my dogs. The dogs force me to make safe decisions. If I was by myself, I wouldn’t care so much where I stayed or what I did.”

Frank, almost bitterly, “We all know you love the dogs more than anyone else.”

I quietly said, “I do. They make me live a better life for myself.”

Working at Dominion might not be considered a better life off the top of your mind, but it would be a better life than floating sofa to sofa, sometimes with men, sometimes with men who I don’t know well.

Clint Eastwood chewed on his cigarette and I said, “Clint Eastwood was someone’s houseboy once . . . that’s how he got his start.”

Frank watched me from the sofa as I stood in front of the television and said, “Oh yeah?”

(*Clint Eastwood lived with gay director Arthur Lubin in his younger days. Lubin cast him in one of the Francis the Talking Mule movies.)

I liked Frank’s apartment in the middle of the night. Dimly lit and quiet, his New York voice can shake the walls. We finished the wine and I went home around 4am. I barely sleep anymore, spring has my mind spinning at all hours.

I looked at the TV set and watched the last scene where Clint Eastwood ties Tuco (The Ugly) up on a noose, leaves his share of the gold at his feet and rides off in the distance so he can take aim and release Tuco only when there is a great enough distance between the two.

I said, “See, even when you are Good you have to keep distance from people when doing the right thing. If they are close enough, they will screw you over.”

Moving back home might not be the worst thing in the world.

I am tired.

I am tired of being forced to become someone’s trophy before I can win at anything.

I am tired of working all the time and having no money. I am tired of worrying about the dogs and rent and Dora and wondering when everything stops so I can relax.

I want to sleep for a week and eat lots of food and have a clean bathroom without someone else’s feces floating at the bottom. I want to know that everything will be ok the next morning.

Time with my parents might be good before we all grow too old. I will get bored but I have to go where the universe is pushing me.

In Olympia, there is a film society I love, a children’s museum, a wolf sanctuary . . . there is Seattle not too far away. Maybe that is where I belong.

Unless there is a miracle, in 4 weeks, I am going back to Washington.

In the meantime, I am going to try to do everything I have always wanted to do before I go.

 

2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Hall of Lost Pussy

  1. mary

    don’t give up yet, maybe take a break, but don’t give up

  2. Mary, thank you. I will try to find a way . . . xo

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